Strong Second Half Leads to First C-USA Win for LA Tech

Jan. 9, 2014

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RUSTON - It was the first Conference USA game for both Louisiana Tech and Florida Atlantic and the two were in a dogfight to pick up the first win.

A strong second half surge for the Bulldogs made the difference as they notched the 84-64 victory over the Owls on Thursday night inside the Thomas Assembly Center.

The size of FAU (4-11, 0-1 C-USA) and its zone gave LA Tech (13-3, 1-0 C-USA) fits in the first half, but the `Dogs opened the second stanza on a 12-2 run that propelled them to their fifth straight win.

"I thought they gained a little confidence by making some stops and we were in a dogfight and that is going to happen in Conference USA and that is going to happen against a solid team like FAU, a really well-coached team," said head coach Michael White. "In the second half, I thought the biggest adjustment we made was being able to get it to the center of their zone.

"Once we settled in, our defensive energy increased after that with our bench especially."

The Bulldogs used an 8-0 run to jump out to a 12-4 lead after holding FAU scoreless for five minutes. The Owls responded with an 8-0 run of their own to tie it up.

From there it was back and forth for the rest of the first stanza with LA Tech taking a 33-30 lead into the locker room at halftime despite struggling from the field and the Owls shooting 44.8 percent.

The lack of offense was not the worse news at that point though. The Bulldogs leading scorer Raheem Appleby, who had a team-high eight points at the time, left the game with an injury to his ankle.

LA Tech was only able to muster 35.1 percent shooting and also had seven missed free throws to add to the frustration.

Whenever the team is still trying to find its offensive rhythm, they turn to their defense to create the offense and that it did.

The full court pressure eventually got to the Owls, and the opponent came up empty for the first three minutes of the second stanza to go along with three of their 19 committed turnovers.

On Kenneth Smith's eighth assist, he found Michale Kyser in the corner who drained an 18-foot jumper to expand the lead out to 78-60 with 3:10 to go.

Kyser helped pick up the scoring in place of Appleby, registering a career-high 17 points, plus 12 rebounds and four blocks for his second double-double of the season.

"Mike has gotten stronger," said White. "He has learned to play at a higher level in terms of his motor and physicality. He is such a good athlete you have to be very physical with him to keep him off the glass.

"He had one very good offensive put back, which he can be phenomenal at. He continues to grow. He had a couple 15 or 16 foot jumpers on good passes from our guards that he settled into, had a nice temp and really knocked them down. Hopefully that gives him confidence going forward because he has a nice stroke facing the basket."

The final 20-point margin was the largest of the game for the Bulldogs.

Alex Hamilton and Chris Anderson recorded double-digit points with 14 and 10, respectively. Cordarius Johnson came off the bench to chip in 12 points on top of his three steals.

Jackson Trapp led the way for FAU with 16 points. The Owls also got a double-double from Justin Raffington who had 12 points and 12 boards.

LA Tech continues C-USA play on Saturday as they host FIU at 7 p.m.

For complete coverage of LA Tech Men's Basketball, please follow @LATechHoops on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at www.LATechSports.com.

 

 

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